Freeman F Chari:
Before the current Government of National Unity, proponents of the theory of exclusive governance were of the belief that an MDC government in Zimbabwe would signal the end of Zimbabwe’s economic quagmire. This was premised on the assumption that once MDC gets into power, western governments particularly USA would pour economic aid into the government’s coffers. Today, we are wallowing in the realisation of the painful truth about the basic rules of engagement with these countries.
There are a few lessons to derive from this:
1) The interests of USA in Zimbabwe go beyond the desire for good governance and democracy.
2) USA is not a friend of MDC, rather MDC was perceived as a front to create an alternative American influence in Zimbabwe.
3) Zimbabweans are their own liberators.
The hypocrisy shown by America is a clear betrayal of its allies. It remains therefore, MDC’s responsibility to extricate itself from the precarious situation that it is in today. There are two options; either to betray the hopes of the people of Zimbabwe by reclining into its previous subservience to American ideologies or to churn a new dispensation that unites the willpower of the people of Zimbabwe in creating alternatives to the status quo.
I am in support of the latter. The reason why the world is trembling at the manacles of the current Global Recession is because most countries are over-dependent on American existence. Thus, when America sneezes the whole world coughs. The recession however has served to remind us that America is not as immune as it claims to be and therefore economies need not sleep but seek alternatives to American interventions.
So, in the face of this unwillingness by western powers to assist in the economic revival of our country what then can we do?
The situation now demands brains that are able to educate, lead and produce in hostile conditions. There are a few points that we need to note. Firstly, society remains in a state of rest or continuous random and aimless motion until a force is exerted to it. Secondly, every human being has a motivation within himself which remains dormant until a drive is exerted to give it direction. Lastly, human beings tend to conserve their energy unless if expending it entails a bigger reward to self.
What this basically means is that naturally human beings are lazy but have a potential to produce if there is an opportunity for them to gain more at individual capacity. Unfortunately, the dynamics in our culture doesn’t reward individuals for mobilising people to solve the tough problems facing them, rather; people are willing to mobilise themselves in pursuit of a solution postulated to them by another person. So in this regard; Zimbabwe needs a leadership that can harness the individual energies of its people and re-channel them towards a collective pursuit of specific and achievable national goals.
There is no doubt that for this to be attainable the government should uphold the principles of democracy. What the government should actually appreciate is that humans naturally want to feel free and that there is always a craving by humans to criticize and oppose that which they do not own or have interest in. So, in all its interventions the government should seek not to compromise the basic freedoms of its nationals and also formulate these interventions in a manner that encourages ownership by the people. Lastly, the government should then ensure commitment by protecting private investments.
What I am saying is that if the government is able to identify its priority areas, collect data and required knowledge, find allies across the boundaries of authority and design a strategy that gets people to re-examine their values; I see no reason why Zimbabwe can fail to retain its status as the bread-basket of Africa.
What comes into my mind right now is that Zimbabwe simply needs to get agricultural production up on its feet. The dollarisation of the economy has helped to stabilise the market. In the mean time the market can be left to float so that business regains its viability. What is more important is to ensure that the limited resources that are available be channelled towards the revival of SEEDCO, Dorowa mine, Sable Chemicals and Zimphos so that come the 2009 rainy season Zimbabwe will have enough seeds and fertilisers for the season.
Given the high unemployment rate in Zimbabwe today it is clear that the government no longer has a tax-base to derive funding for its day-to-day activities. This situation should spur it into being inventive. One way is to tap from its human resource exports. In this regard the government can engage all its citizens working abroad to see ways by which they can assist in the rebuilding of the country.
With over a million Zimbabweans in formal employment across the world and over three million people in the diaspora, Zimbabwe has a potentially fertile ground to tap from. Of importance is the need to convince Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to remit their foreign currency to Zimbabwe and also to invest in Zimbabwe. Even though remittances do not directly add to Government’s budgetary resources, they raise the level of national saving and add to the availability of foreign exchange for the day to day transactions.
Secondly, as in the case of Eritrea government can compel all Zimbabweans in formal employment outside the country to pay ‘voluntary’ tax; even 0.5% of their earnings per month and as an incentive, residential stands in urban areas would be developed which would then be offered to those who would have consistently remitted tax when the cumulative value of their remittances reach a certain value.
Central to all these interventions is also the need to create institutions that are ethical, morally upright, transparent and accountable. This means that if Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are to remit any tax, they need assurances that their money is going directly towards meeting the developmental commitments of the government and not into the pockets of some corrupt officials. So in line with such a vision institutions like the Reserve Bank and Zimra would need a complete overhaul.
These are just some of the ideas that are flying within my head but what I am clear about is that given the current circumstances Zimbabwe simply needs visionary and creative leadership for it to sail out of predicament that it is in.
Freeman F Chari (HBMLS-UZ)
Zimbabwe Youth Movement